Character Cage Match: The Hobbit's Gandalf vs. Harry Potter's Dumbledore
12.14.12 by Ryan
This weekend sees the opening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is great news for Lord of the Rings who will get to see plenty returning characters such as the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) aids a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and an assembly of dwarves in their quest to unseat the dragon Smaug from the treasure he's guarding. It's only the first of a three-part adaptation, which means there will be plenty more Gandalf to go around for the next few years, even if he will still be one appearance behind another literary-turned-cinematic wizard, Harry Potter's Dumbledore.
Speaking of Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (first played by the late Richard Harris and then by Michael Gambon), this week's arrival of Gandalf got us thinking about our two favorite, long-bearded wizards and which of the two would survive the cybernetic cage that is our Character Cage Match! No doubt, fans of either J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling may already have their minds made up, but we make a case for both and only you can decide which wizard will leave victorious!
The Rules: it's pretty simple: which Wizard could out-conjure the other? Taking into account both wizards' literary and movie incarnations, one of these sorcerers shall not pass.
Dumbledore's Strengths: Beloved teacher and father figure to young wizards everywhere, Dumbledore is the kindest, wisest, most powerful wizard around! He is the embodiment of good, whose ultimate strength is his knowledge of the most powerful of magics: love.
Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards, Dumbledore always had an aptitude for magic even before he gained the distinction of the Order of Merlin First Class. A master alchemist and the wizard who discovered the twelve uses of dragon blood, Dumbledore can conjure Gubraithian Fire and can become invisible without an invisibility cloak. He is a master at dueling, having defeated Grindelwald, the second to Voldemort on a list of Most Dangerous Dark Wizards of All Time. As a result, Dumbledore has the Elder Wand in his possession, which offers invincibility during duels.
Dumbledore's Weaknesses: Clumsiness. While Dumbledore openly admits that he sometimes lets his emotions get the better of him, it is carelessness that gets the best of him in the end. Can you really be such a great wizard and not realize that you've put a cursed ring on your finger? A cursed ring that was ultimately going to kill him before he allowed Snape to use the Killing Curse on him.
Of course, he could have saved himself from all of this by making himself an elixir of immortality, which he could have done when he had the Sorcerer's Stone (or Philosopher's Stone, depending on where you live) in his possession. Instead, it was destroyed! Bet Dumbledore wished he could have had a do-over on that decision while he was falling out of the Astronomy Tower!
Gandalf's Strengths: Gandalf is so magical that his name is derived from Old Norse words meaning "magic" and "staff!" Not only that, but Gandlaf was originally an immortal spirit who takes the form of Gandalf the Grey when he is sent to Middle-Earth to oppose Sauron. In fact, Gandalf is so powerful a magical being that even when he ultimately dies, he returns as the even more powerful Gandalf the White.
Since Gandalf did not exactly study magic like Dumbledore, there is no list of specialties or achievements per se, though it is known that he can speak to animals. It's safe to say that there is very little Gandalf can't do, magically-speaking, with the possible exception of teleporting himself to different places since he requires a horse for transportation. He is also skilled at hand-to-hand combat, perhaps purposely not using magic to keep himself interested.
Gandalf's Weaknesses: Misplaced trust. While Gandalf was rewarded for placing his trust in hobbits, his trust in others doesn't allow him to see a double-cross very easily. For instance, he is fooled by Saruman and pretty quickly trapped in the tower of Orthanc. Also, Gandalf allows Gimli the Dwarf to convince the Fellowship of the Ring to travel through the mines of Moria, even though Gandalf knew that only horrors would await them, including the Balrog that would eventually kill him.
Gandalf is also easily distracted, which would explain why he constantly has to leave one task to complete another as he did during the Quest for Erebor that comprises The Hobbit.
Wizard Vs. Wizard — Who Will Win?